Monday, 25 October 2010

I’m a tester, I can’t waste time doing testing activities?

I was involved in a discussion one day about the regression testing activities and more implicitly, the post execution activities. Someone was making a point that validating the results and outcomes of the Tests was ‘taking too much my time’.
This point intrigued me and my initial thoughts were ‘ok, so what did these validations prevent you from doing that was more important, than a key aspect of your actual job?’ I simply don’t get this.
As a tester, you have many aspects to your job but the general thesis is this, you create and execute Test Cases (be it exploratory or scripted checks) with the intention of finding out information to provide feedback on the health of a project. As part of this execution, there is an inevitable ‘wash up’ activity that involves verifying the results. That is, to say, did the outcomes match what was expected or is there a potential issue? There is no way around this, the results need to be verified (do you ever hear TV talent shows say before a result is announced, ‘the results have been counted but we don’t need to VERIFY them’ – NO).
If you don’t verify the results, how can you:-

• Provide meaningful information?
• Find out if there is a problem?
• Carry out further testing?
• Improve your testing?

How you do this verification is a different discussion. If it is manual, it will take longer than if you have automation that can spit out results and potentially examine them as well.
It is my belief that automation has been the best and the worst thing that has happened to testing in the past number of years. It has helped improve monotonous checking, increase the speed of provision of information through quicker execution and when used properly, extremely powerful to various areas of testing such as reporting and data entry. However, I believe automation has made testers and testing LAZY. Some Testers (as well as Managers) now see automation = testing and anything that cannot be automated is not worth testing. Further to that, some testers are seeing executing automated Tests as their entire testing activities…period. In other words, the automation runs when it is finished, I am done and nothing else is required. This is equivalent to saying it NEEDS to provide Passes and the Green bar so as to not mean I spend time verifying the results.
This mindset is damaging to the core aspects of testing and actually quite insulting to the good intentions of the keepers of the testing industry.
All Testers want to be providing value, being involved in the creation of the next big Testing thing, creating solutions. However, all Testers need to be true to the core aspects of their job; the creation of Test Cases, Test Case execution and Test Case execution FOLLOW UP.
There are no workarounds here, no quick fixes, its simply part of ‘doing your job’. If you are a tester who doesn’t believe in these facets of your job, my advice is quite simple ‘Testing is a waste of your time, time for a career move’.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Testers get lost too

A little experience I had the other night that you may (or may not) find interesting.
I was walking to my Sister-in-law's from work and came across a schools soccer match at the local park. Being a soccer fan, I naturally stopped and watched along. Being a true fan of the fine arts of football; the skill, flair, sublime passing, vision and will to win, I was immediately drawn back to my own youth when we raced out to the local park and played for hours. In all this time, we attempted to do things that you wouldn’t see in a modern day top class league. Things like trying the unexpected, dribbling forever, shooting from unique angles, everything you wouldn’t see nowadays. In a way, it was the innocence and impotence of youth; a carefree and unabandoned attitude. I liken this to the modern day true tester who sees testing as a journey, a learning experience and not a job.
What I saw that evening was everything that wasn’t the wild freedom of youth but a tightly constrained, follow the rules, process driven, shackled attitude that prevented these young fellas from expressing themselves. There were constant kicking without looking, long balls, no flair or imagination, nothing that could be deemed enjoyable or 'easy on the eye'. In essence, they were ‘over coached’, if you like, they were given ‘certifications’ in todays testing parlance. ‘Follow the rules and you will be accepted and go further’.

I walked on home and immediately drew comparisons with the scene I had just witnessed and the testing community today. Those kids were like testers who start out with, or have, the correct attitude to testing and see it as fun, exploring, looking for things not thought of, improving. However, somewhere along the line, the kids, like the testers, fell in with 'coaches' who coached the carefree and ‘want to explore’ out of them. In the testing world, the 'coaches' are the managers or the 'ISEB clones' who have kidnapped or brain washed these testers with ability and skill and mis-directed them with tales of certification, industry acceptance and make your cv/resume look good!

Good and conscientous testers, testers who see their job as a continual learning experience, who are never satisfied, who are looking for better, are not constrained, are not shackled, do not need certifications and are essentially like the carefree kids playing football back in my day. Those testers need salvation and need to read blogs from testing lights to see there are other ways than the ‘official coaching’.
To become a great footballer, you do not need a badge or certificate. You need ability, desire, the want. All the great footballers of today and yesteryear had these traits in abundance.
Testers, look at the great testers in the world today, the likes of Kaner, Bach, Weinberg, Bolton. Then ask yourself 2 things:-
  • Does the above paragraph sound familiar??
  • What road do you wish to go down?